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The 3 Main Types of Deck Material

Aug 29, 2007
Traditionally, deck material has been wood. Depending on what part of the country lived in, that might be redwood, western cedar or pressure-treated southern pine.

Other types of wood material are also becoming more available: Alaska yellow cedar and rain-forest hardwoods such as ipe and red meranti from Malaysia.

In addition, two new categories of deck material have appeared in recent years: composites made from natural wood fiber and recycled plastic and decking made from extruded vinyl.

A growing public sensitivity regarding hazardous chemicals has created the situation in which consumers have become increasingly receptive to environmentally advanced products. In the past southern pine was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). However, a new process has substituted alkaline copper quad (ACQ) as the preservative to create pressure treated deck material.

It continues to effectively fight rot, decay and insect attack. At the same time it's easy to use in any outdoor application and can be stained, painted or left to weather. Scraps of this wood can be disposed of by regular trash collection. More importantly, it is one of the least expensive deck materials.

Top grades of redwood are prized as deck material for their performance. Redwood is very stable and is naturally resistant to both rot and insects. It is easy to work and holds finishes well. The application of a protective finish every few years that contains mildewcides, water repellents and UV protections is a wise choice.

Western red cedar and Alaska yellow cedar are both resistant to decay, straight grained, easy to work and dimensionally stable. Western red cedar deck material has a red to brown color and is lighter in weight than Alaskan cedar or redwood. Yellow cedar is stronger and heavier and has a clear, bright color. It is more difficult to stain because of its density.

Tropical hardwoods can make great deck materials. Ipe, a related group of South American hardwoods, is highly resistant to rot and insect damage. It makes an extremely durable deck surface. Ipe is a premium decking product in terms of price. However, it has been exploited for years and is becoming an endangered species.

Meranti is a deck material from Malaysia, the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia. It is also called Philippine mahogany or lauan. It is rated as being a step below redwood, cedar and ipe.

Composite deck material made from recycled plastic and ground-up waste wood is too flexible to be used for structural or load-bearing framing. Instead it is used mainly as decking. Other than periodic cleaning, composite deck material does not need any maintenance.

Vinyl deck materials are extruded from solid polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are splinter free, inedible to insects, fungi and maintenance free and resistant to mildew and UV damage.

In the end, the choice of which deck material will be used comes down to a matter of money and availability. The ideal deck would have its framework and support posts made using pressure treated wood. The deck surface, fascia, railing and step systems would be constructed using the best deck materials that the homeowner could afford to buy.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Materials and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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